Guess who's coming to
dinner? It's your spouse again, wanting meat. Can this marriage be
If want to be a vegetarian, but your spouse doesn't, your situation
isn't as unusual as you might think. I’ve received numerous emails from
readers and worked with clients who find themselves in the same boat.
In general, there is nothing wrong with differences. In fact, it's great
when each spouse brings different personality traits and preferences to
the relationship. But incompatibility about diet can be problematic.
Preparing two different kinds of meals, for example, is not an effective
or practical long-term resolution, especially for the spouse doing most
of the work in the kitchen.
Beyond the time and effort involved in cooking meals, there is a
fundamental misalignment or imbalance between people who cannot find a
way to be in synch about something as important as what and how they eat
Unless one spouse can happily go to the other’s side, this can grow into
an unending quarrel. When both spouses feel strongly about their own
desires, finding a happy medium requires open-mindedness and positive
attitudes on both sides. One effective technique in resolving conflicts
is finding a way to connect with each other in a meaningful manner —
that is, with compassion, empathy and a spirit of compromise!
The diet dilemma is an important issue and one that can be effectively
resolved between a couple. If each spouse can put aside the self in the
interest of themselves, discovering the answer, even if through
compromise, is perfectly
doable. It’s not a power-of-the-will test but
an exercise of unconditional love and selfless reflection.
The first step is to openly discuss what you each want, why it is
important to you, and how you can show some understanding and
consideration for one another.
And give it time. Some people are able to make major lifestyle changes
very quickly, and others take months or even years to change.
Both sides have to meet half way, or it's not going to work. For
example, the meat eater might accept all-vegetarian meals half the time,
and in exchange can have
at home the rest of the time. For the vegetarian hoping to convert the
omnivore, that solution gives ample opportunity to show how delicious,
healthy and satisfying vegetarian meals can be.
The diet dilemma isn’t limited to couples; it’s also common for
teenagers to want a different diet from their parents. Often teenagers
want to become vegetarians and the parents don't -- though sometimes
it's the other way around.
My youngest son, who is 18 years old, grew up on a vegetarian diet. That
was not his choice; it was mine and my husband’s decision because we are
vegetarians. Although as parents we advocated vegetarianism, we always
told our children that they had a choice.
My youngest son ate chicken for the first time at 12. After that, he had
turkey every Thanksgiving at his grandmother’s house and gradually
increased his intake of chicken and turkey to several times per year.
He has been doing weight training since he was 14. He's gotten more
serious about it, and in the past two years even works with a personal
trainer. Each of his three personal trainers told him that animal
protein is required to increase muscle mass. I don’t agree, but I also
don't agree with the idea that one diet is best for everyone. We each
have our own unique ideal diet.
(I'd also like to point out that my son's first trainer told him he was
by far the strongest 16-year-old he had ever seen, a fact I attribute
mainly to growing up on a
healthy, well-balanced and, yes, 99% vegetarian
Some people crave animal protein and say it makes them feel stronger,
healthier and more energetic. There are some dietary theories to support
this. But there is also mounting evidence that a well-balanced
plant-based diet is the healthiest and the most eco-friendly.
As for my son, he still eats a mostly vegetarian diet that is very
healthy. He loves eating my food, which always includes lots of veggies,
salads, grains, beans and some tofu, seitan and tempeh.
I still won’t make chicken for him and he’s never expected me to. I
realize, however, that my son really wants to eat chicken. Rather than
imposing my choice on him, I now occasionally buy already-prepared
organic free-range chicken raised without hormones, antibiotics and
pesticides. He eats it once or twice a week. Most importantly, we
compromised and found a solution that we can both live with.
I think that's one example of how compromise on both sides can enable
vegetarians and non-vegetarians to live together in harmony.
In any functional and loving relationship, it’s vital to value and
appreciate each other’s background from the other’s perspective to find
common grounds that can sustain a strong, happy, healthy and life-long
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Isn't Coconut Oil
I read your article "Cutting Fat to Lose Weight" and when you stated to
avoid coconut oil....well...I’m confused now.
So much misinformation out there and just wished to clarify your
reasoning behind coconut oil and what studies you have done on it. I ask
because...the evidence is pointing to coconut oil being beneficial to
loosing weight being it isn’t stored as fat on your body but burned as
energy. Can you clarify this for me?
Catherine Lee Jonez
Boston Bar, British Columbia, Canada
A: Thank you for the great
question. Back in 2003 I wrote
called, “Cutting Fat to Loose Weight” in, which I recommend avoiding
There is a lot of hype about coconut oil, and that hype results from a
common process that begins with health research.
When scientists discover that some element of a natural food is healthy
in some way, food or drug companies and others try to figure out how to
profit from the isolation and sale of that component as a kind of "drug"
or wonder food. It's part of a longstanding tradition in western
medicine and science that constantly strives to improve, rather than
In accepting this profit-driven, reductionist view about food, we
neglect variety and moderation. Too much of any good thing can be bad
Instead, we should add new research to our knowledge of foods, and
constantly strive to eat those foods in their most original, unaltered
and whole state.
Coconut oil is the isolated fat that results from pressed coconut meat.
In recent years, coconut oil has grown in popularity because it is high
in lauric acid, which research has shown might boost brain function and
enhance the immune system. Lauric acid is a substance also present in
human breast milk that, when consumed by infants, is converted into
monolaurin, which gives babies
from infections. It is also being promoted as a weight loss aid because
it contains at least 50 percent medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which
are easily digested and not stored as fat by the body and instead
enhance the metabolism while giving a feeling of satiety.
Thus far, however, the majority of cumulative research on coconut oil
does not provide sufficient evidence to treat it as a healthier
saturated fat than animal-derived saturated fat. Contrary to some
claims, many studies have shown that coconut oil raises cholesterol due
its high saturated fat content.
Even with claims that coconut oil could be minimally healthful, most
experts agree that the risks associated with high intake of saturated
fat outweigh the benefits.
If you eat a diet generally low in other saturated fats and cholesterol
(such as a vegan diet), then a moderate intake of unrefined coconut oil
might not be harmful.
Until more significant research can show corroborated data on the
effects of coconut oil on the metabolism, as well as its effects in
supporting weight loss, I have to reiterate that it’s something to
Most of our healthy fatty acids should come from whole, unprocessed
foods such as avocado, flax seeds, raw nuts and raw seeds, so we get the
whole package of nutrients including all the vitamins, minerals,
enzymes, phytochemicals and fiber, which are destroyed when we process
foods to isolate single ingredients -- and all the healthy components
that science has yet to discover and isolate.
As a general rule, it's best to eat whole foods as close to their
natural state as possible -- not isolated single components. While we
need the use of isolated fats for cooking and dressings, for instance,
it’s best that keep those to a minimum. Eating a whole coconut is way
better for you than the isolated fat itself.
KUDOS AND COMMENTS
On Homemade Meals
I enjoyed this mailing and
appreciate receiving it. I am appalled at the percentage of people who
use prepared industrial foods instead of cooking from scratch. People
seem to have lost the ability to think for themselves and believe most
advertisements they see on TV or all around. It explains why Americans
in particular are suffering from obesity and dying sooner than other
world populations. But one cannot teach intelligence to people who are
self-satisfied and brain-washed.
Because I am a senior person
of European origin, my values are different and I ran my life
accordingly, raising two sons on-home cooked meals and hand-knit
sweaters - all the while working full-time because I was a very young
widow with no other income than my salary. But I did not waste time
watching TV endlessly or otherwise. So it is a matter of personal
Thanks for your good work.
Montréal, Québec, Canada
WORDS OF WISDOM
Change Comes From
possibility of stepping into a higher plane is quite real for everyone.
It requires no force or effort or sacrifice. It involves little more
than changing our ideas about what is normal.”
- Deepak Chopra
TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Your Wholesome Life
This newsletter and blog are
free, but I make my living providing
one-on-one holistic health counseling, either in person or by
I invite you to
contact me and let me help you make the changes you always
wanted to make, one step at a time. The first initial one-hour
consultation is free.
When it comes to overall health and happiness, it’s all connected; your
food, your relationships, your lifestyle and you career are all part of
the equation. I’d love to help you find your solution.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Corn Syrup Is Harming
New research corroborates that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
increases the risk of developing diabetes, especially in children.
Researchers found that consuming soft drinks sweetened with HFCS
triggers tissue and cell damage, which causes diabetes. HFCS is a cheap
ingredient popular with unscrupulous manufacturers and therefore
commonly found in thousands of beverages and packaged foods, both
and even some organic products. The best defense against this toxic
sweetener is to eat a whole foods
diet, read labels carefully, and avoid this nasty ingredient.
According to the author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, whom
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, HFCS accounts for 20 percent of the
calories in many children’s diets. Corn, Pollan states, is a huge
contributor to the obesity epidemic in this country.
Disturbingly, Pollan argues that there is a correlation between poverty
and obesity which is the result of the U.S. government’s agricultural
policies and subsidies paid for by our tax dollars. Unfortunately, it
doesn’t look like the 2007 Farm Bill is going to make any significant
strides thanks to our politicians who are failing to address tax payer’s
concerns in the interest of big business.
Stay motivated - Read health-related research
news, events and commentary every day. Check out Amira's
Vegetarian Organic Life
GOOD THINGS IN STORE
Food For Life
This is a not a paid
endorsement. It's simply my way of appreciating and acknowledging
excellence in companies that strive to support the interest of
Food for Life makes
delicious and super-healthy Ezekiel breads and cereals made from
I’ve been eating Food for Life products for many years. But this
privately-owned, California-based company continues to innovate and
create wholesome and healthy products that are as good as homemade.
Although I’m a big advocate of foods made at home from scratch, I don’t
feel guilty buying already-made sprouted organic whole grain corn
tortillas made with freshly sprouted
100% organic whole kernel corn, which is completely free of flour,
cornmeal, additives and preservatives. (They even come in a re-sealable
and recyclable bag.)
Food for Life is better
known for bread than tortillas -- which is a shame, because the
company's tortillas are something truly special.
Ordinary "industrial" corn tortillas are made from pulverized
genetically modified corn flour, often laden with pesticides and
preservatives. For example, Mission Corn tortillas are made with ground
corn treated with lime, water, cellulose gum (an emulsifier), propionic
acid (a preservative), phosphoric acid (another preservative), benzoic
acid (yet another preservative), dextrose (a sugar), guar gum (a
thickener) and amylase (an enzyme).
Food For Life tortillas, by contrast, are made with organic sprouted
whole kernel corn, filtered water, sea salt and lime -- that's it.
Here's the best part. If you heat Food For Life tortillas up properly,
they taste far better than conventional tortillas. Submerge them in
water completely but briefly before heating them up in a pan, grill or a
bamboo steamer (for a softer consistency).
a Penn State University study, parents can help their children
reduce intake of high calorie foods by crowding them out with
high-nutrient lower-calorie ingredients.
Researchers suggest sneaking in vegetables such as broccoli blended in
pasta sauce. Higher intake of vegetables translates into fewer calorie
but higher nutrient intake for children to enjoy better health and a
But this should not be a replacement for whole vegetables but an
additional measure to continue to instill love for vegetables in
children. "Stealth foods" should be used as a way of increasing and
maximizing nutrition in children’s diets. Be creative. Try ground
flaxseeds in dressings and cereals, garbanzo beans in a tahini dressing,
quinoa in soups or ground nuts or seeds in cold and hot cereals.
ENJOY VEGETARIAN ORGANIC LIFE?
SHARE THE JOY - FORWARD TO A FRIEND!
VEGETARIAN ORGANIC RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Fiesta Tofu Tostadas
Click on the picture for a closer look!
Nothing says celebration like a wonderfully tasty homemade meal around
the dinner table with loved ones sharing the scrumptious and savory
aromas and rich flavors of my fiesta tofu tostadas. The enticing spices
and herbs create an irresistible harmony of delightful and nutritious
ingredients. High in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, my fiesta
tostadas will conquer the most avid meat eaters.
This dish will taste even better after it has been
refrigerated. Make it a day or two ahead of time. Make plenty of it to
have leftovers to make second and third meals out of it. Try it in tacos
with my cabbage
relish for a second dinner or bring some to work and have it for
lunch. Try to
make home cooked beans from scratch, they taste so much better.
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes
Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
1 tablespoon safflower oil
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into 1 inch squares
1 large orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded, deribbed and cut into 1
16 oz extra firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
3 cups cooked black beans, drained (homemade if possible – see link
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1 package organic whole grain corn tortillas (about 2 per person)
1 cup fresh
radish and tomato relish or pico de gallo or tomato salsa
1. In an extra large skillet or pot heat oils on low heat and add onion,
garlic and bell peppers sautéing for 5 minutes or until they look
translucent, stirring frequently.
2. Add tofu cubes sautéing for 5 more minutes and continue to stir over
medium heat. Add
beans, paprika, cumin, turmeric, black pepper and salt. Mix well and
continue to sauté for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
3. In the meantime, heat up pan or oven to 350 degrees F to warm up
tortillas in single layers making sure you turn them over after two or
three minutes to prevent sticking to the pan or cookie sheet. For a soft
consistency, remove from the oven promptly and for crunchy consistency
leave them in the oven until they are baked, about 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Add cilantro to tofu, stir well sautéing for a couple of more
minutes, adjust seasoning and turn off heat. Take mixture and place a
generous amount on each tortilla. Top with relish or salsa, sliced
avocado and serve immediately.
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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.
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Copyright© 2003-2007 Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.